CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan and Republican opponent Ovide Lamontagne are doing what New Hampshire politicians do most when seeking office as the hours wind down to Election Day: crisscrossing the state retail politicking.
Both were spending the dwindling time they have left shaking hands and rallying supporters and volunteers.
Their visibility got a boost from weekend visits from their parties’ presidential candidates. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama had campaign stops in the state. Romney also scheduled a rally in Manchester with Kid Rock on Monday night.
Taxes, jobs and abortion are the key themes emerging from their campaigns.
Lamontagne promises to be the tightest with the taxpayers’ dollars by raising no taxes and making state agencies show their spending was necessary.
Both Lamontagne and Hassan have taken the traditional pledge to veto a personal income or general sales tax, but Lamontagne claims Hassan’s promise is false because she opposes a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban an income tax. He says the amendment’s passage would make it impossible for a governor and Legislature to enact the tax.
Hassan says fiscal policy shouldn’t be enshrined in the constitution and her opposition to the amendment does not weaken her pledge to veto the taxes.
Hassan argues her ideas to help businesses grow with job training programs and tax credits would lead to a stronger state economy. She has criticized the Republican Legislature for making deep cuts to the state university system that led to higher tuition, hurt middle class families and students’ ability to prepare for the job market.
Lamontagne touts his own plan: a proposed business tax cut — if he can find offsetting budget cuts to cover the loss in revenue — and various tax credits as the best way to promote job growth.
Hassan has strongly courted women by promising to veto legislation that reduces access to abortion, birth control and health services provided by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At a Concord rally Friday, she was joined by EMILY’s list president Stephanie Schriock and Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who was New Hampshire’s first female governor.
Hassan is telling women they shouldn’t trust Lamontagne when he says that regardless of his opposition to abortion, he would lack the power to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision that makes abortion legal. Hassan said he would have the power as governor to sign bills limiting access to abortion.
Hassan also has pledged to veto legislation that would repeal New Hampshire’s gay marriage law.
Lamontagne said he would sign a repeal bill if it protected existing gay marriages and replaced the gay marriage law with a civil unions law.
Hassan and Lamontagne also differ whether New Hampshire employers and employees should be able to negotiate labor contracts that require workers who don’t want to join a union to pay a share of the union administrative costs, called an agency fee. Lamontagne argues a so-called right-to-work law would entice companies to move to New Hampshire; Hassan says government has no business inserting itself in what employers negotiate with their employees.
Regardless of who wins, the casino industry will have a friend in the governor’s office. Lamontagne and Hassan support legalizing a high-end casino along the Massachusetts border. They differ on the process to approve it, however. Lamontagne proposes designating Rockingham Park race track in a bill to go before the Legislature. Hassan would want the location decided by a bid.
Both support legalizing medical marijuana, oppose requiring helmets for motorcycle riders and oppose term limits for governor. Hassan opposes teaching creationism in public schools; Lamontagne opposes it in his own school but says the decision should be left to the local community. Lamontagne supports school choice; Hassan does not.
Hassan says she would accept an option under the federal health care overhaul to cover thousands of people by expanding Medicaid. Lamontagne says he would reject such an option and instead try to get the federal government to give money to let New Hampshire design its own solution to the problem.
Hassan, 54, is a former Senate majority leader and business attorney from Exeter. She lost her re-election bid to the Senate in a Republican sweep in 2010.
Lamontagne, 55, is a business attorney from Manchester and past chairman of the state board of education. This is his second try for governor. He lost to Shaheen in 1996. He also lost primary races for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 and the U.S. Senate in 2010.